A New Regional Drought Resilience Plan

NACC NRM, the Mid West Development Commission and local government have teamed up to develop a new drought resilience plan for our region. Read more to find out how you can get involved.

Drought is a part of life in Australia. While we are currently enjoying a great year, with plenty of rain across the Northern Agricultural Region, we can be sure that the next major drought looms just around the corner. Crippling drought in 2006 and 2007 brought the agricultural industry to its knees and many farmers in the region have spent recent years focusing on building resilience to future dry times.

The Regional Drought Resilience Planning Program (the RDRP) is one of eight programs rolling out across Australia under the federal Future Drought Fund (FDF). The FDF will allocate $100 million a year to projects that support drought preparedness and resilience for farmers, farming communities and the natural resource on which farmers depend. The Australian Government is investing nearly $10 million into drought resilience planning and preparedness through the RDRP during 2020-21.

The RDRP will support regional organisations, local government, communities and industry to partner together to develop Regional Drought Resilience Plans. These plans will identify actions to build each region’s resilience to future droughts and position participating regions well to take advantage of upcoming funding opportunities under the FDF. Plans will focus on building resilience to drought in agriculture and allied industries. Western Australian pilots of the RDRP are underway in the Mid West, Wheatbelt and Great Southern regions.

Here in the Mid West, NACC NRM and the Mid West Development Commission (MWDC) are working together with three Local Government Authorities (LGAs), the City of Greater Geraldton and the Shires of Chapman Valley and Northampton, to develop a drought resilience plan. This plan will build on the successes of the North Eastern Agricultural Region (NEAR) Drought Response Strategy, which was developed in response to the drought in the early 2000s and received a Premier’s Award in 2010. The NEAR strategy focused on decision-support tools and technology, appropriate land use and supporting resilient farmers and farming communities. It led to a $23 million investment in drought preparedness through the WA Drought Pilot Program, which included farm business planning, mentorship opportunities and building social capital and community networks.  

Farmers in the Mid West have worked exceptionally hard to develop strong, evidence-based decision-making approaches using tools such as Yield Prophet and on-farm weather and soil moisture data to great effect. Many have consolidated their businesses around the production of drought-tolerant wheat and have begun the process of revegetating unproductive areas to promote rehydration of soils, take advantage of limited or unseasonal rain and reduce erosion risk. The current round of drought resilience planning will build on these gains, identifying what we need to do now to ensure that our communities are as prepared as they can be and will be even more resilient in the face of future droughts.

At this early stage in the project, we are starting the conversation with participating LGAs, local farmers and their representative producer groups, agribusiness and the local offices of relevant state government departments. The Department of Primary Industries and Regional Development will provide technical expertise and oversight, and we have engaged a local Project Advisory Group to make sure that the process we run in the Mid West is 100% focused on the needs and priorities of the people in our region. Keep an eye out on the NACC NRM and MWDC events pages and social media over the next month or two for upcoming opportunities to learn more and give your input.

For more information in the meantime, please visit the Future Drought Fund website, DPIRD Drought Resilience Program website, Regional Drought Resilience Planning webpage or contact Senior Conservation Planning Officer, Dr Amanda Bourne, at NACC NRM (0474 652 595; amanda.bourne@nacc.com.au).

This program is jointly funded through the Australian Government’s Future Drought Fund and the WA Department of Primary Industries and Regional Development.

Dr. Amanda Bourne – Senior Conservation Planning Officer

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